The next stop on our extraordinary life asset journey is the subject — “Your character”. Who are you? What kind of person do you really want to become? Your character is the cumulative total of your personality traits.
This is your identity and is shaped by your moral values. We express it in the principles you live by and ‘who you inside determine how you behave outside’.
A good character gives you a monumental decision-making framework.
An inner compass allows you to stay on track regardless of pressure and temptations. Now, this criterion isn’t something we are born with. In fact, none of us get that for free. A good character has to be built over time.
For example: In order to sustain our lives on this planet, we need to find food. We need to find shelter, medicine, figure out sanitation. We’ve got to produce the material values we need to sustain our lives. So for our physical survival, we’ve got to shape the world exactly in the image of our values.
For our psychological survival, we’ve got to produce the values of character that sustain our lives and that make our lives worth living. The key here is to keep on producing what we’ve got to produce. The value of character doesn’t fall out of a tree somewhere and land on your head. Life’s determination doesn’t just happen by luck or osmosis.
We've got to work on this stuff, we need to work harder.
When you think about the things that make up a moral character, you will probably think about all the things we want our lives to be a good person — like honesty, integrity, reliability, determination, courage, compassion. Character traits like these really sustain your life and make your life worth living.
Let’s dive into some core Extraordinary Life Asset philosophy. Look at,
What having a good character actually means?
What does a good character look like? I give an example of someone I think had a prominent character:
He was one of the first truly great Americans. A diplomat state leader, inventor, and entrepreneur. He was America’s first self-made millionaire. Around 1730, when he was in his late 20s, he listed 13 virtues that he thought were really important for a good character.
He put these virtues on a separate page in a tiny book that he kept with him almost all of his life and he kept track of his performance in every area, every day. Sometimes, he selects one of these virtues and focuses on it for the entire week. He wanted to turn these virtues into habits. I think this is his attempt to attain the extraordinary life asset!
Here are some virtues that were on his list:
1. Temperance: Don’t eat too much. Don’t drink too excess.
2. Silence: Don’t talk unless it benefits yourself or others and avoid small talks.
3. Patience: All your things have their place and let every part of your business have its time.
4. Resolution: Do what you should do and always do it to say you’re going to do.
5. Frugality: Don’t spend foolishly and waste things.
6. Tranquillity: Don’t worry about unimportant things and don’t get upset about things you can’t control.
That’s good stuff — develop habits in those areas and you’ll create a glorious, self-independent life for yourself. You’ll live longer, happier.
Those are fantastic character traits that remind us of when we meet a person of good character. You know it is a sense that you can trust them, that you can rely on them. Not going to lie, they will not cheat, they will not steal, they’re going to operate with honesty and with integrity.
Those are the unique people you want to know. Those are the unique friends you want to have, the unique people you want to work with and hang out with. That’s the unique person you want to be.
I have shared a powerful exercise at the end. It will really help you move up your character and as a powerful character-building exercise, I’ve seen it work like magic in people’s lives.
You know, a long time ago I learned how important this category is. Maybe the most important category of all. There’s a pot of debate about but I tell you — simply put the character category as the foundation of the other 11 categories of your life.
How does your character determine your life?
Your character will determine probably everything in your life. Your level of health and fitness, the quality of your love relationship, your career, financial success, the quality of the things you have in your life, the experiences in your life, even the length of your life, are usually determined by your character. You’re going to find a precious addition to your life’s development.
The origin of the word “character” is very interesting. It actually comes from a Greek word for “engraved Mark”, ” a symbol or an imprint on the soul”
In ancient times, a character was a stamp or a marking that was impressed into wax or clay. The use of this word has changed over the years but that its origin. Since the 17th century, the word “husband” is associated with some qualities of your personality that define a person. So your character includes everything that you are. Your behaviors, your thoughts, your ideas, your motivations or intentions, your temperament, your emotions, your tendencies — all these components go into shaping and coloring your identity.
The balance of these components within your soul makes up your character. It is what makes your personal character unique and sets you apart from everybody else. Everybody’s character is unique. Your character is defined by how your actions relate to your personal morality.
What does morality mean?
Morality means ‘your personal code of values and conduct.’ The reflector sense of right and wrong, your sense of good and bad, or what’s proper or improper to human beings. So we can think of your character in a way of your moral self and as something that you build through virtuous behavior.
When we think about the original meaning of the word, “to engrave or to imprint or to stamp”, the process of building a good character is stamping your sense of morality onto yourself. The quality of your character is determined by how deeply engraved your morality is.
What is life about?
Life is about how deeply yourself, your beliefs, your thoughts, your words, and your actions get integrated with your morality and your senses of right and wrong.
A couple simple but key questions in this category are:
Character is about should and shouldn’t. A person with a strong character consistently gets himself or herself to do the things they should do and doesn’t do the things they shouldn’t do according to their own morality.
Again, a strong character is about doing what you should do and not doing what you shouldn’t do according to your own beliefs and values.
Where does your character show up more than in your daily habits?
Your habits are the things you do consistently to shape your life and define you as a human being. You are what you continuously do.
The good news and interesting news is your character can also shape your habits because habits are learned. You can learn about good habits and unlearn bad habits. As you realize the habitual ways, you can think, act and consciously choose to get rid of destructive behaviors and install good behaviors that will take hold in your life and work for you instead of working against you. It is a choice. Most people don’t know that their habits were born unconsciously and they perform them unconsciously.
If you do stuff this way, your character is evolving unconsciously, but it’s completely within your power to control.
Controlling your habits consciously is the most powerful thing that you could ever do as a human being.
Look, we’ve all got bad habits… If you know someone who doesn’t have bad habits please introduce them to me because I have not met that kind of person in my life! We all do stuff that we know we shouldn’t do and sometimes we don’t do stuff that we know we should do.
Our character-building exercise focuses on just identifying one negative habitual pattern that is running through our veins and getting rid of it. This is to strengthen and create your own character. If you have properly done this exercise, it can create anything from a small incremental improvement in your life to a profound positive change that can lead to a completely unique existence.
I have seen this exercise injecting miracles. It was inspired by my dear friend Andrea years ago and I’ve used it repeatedly in my own life. With splendid success, I’m confident enough to share with you this brain exercise now.
- Look at some things that you do repeatedly that you rather not do: your bad habits. It’s okay — we’ve all got him. Indeed, out-of-control eating might be a notable negative thinking. Drinking too much alcohol, spending above your financial means, smoking, biting your nails, some fetish stuff, losing your temper too much…. just take a few seconds now and think about some of your negative pattern to see what comes up.
Your mission is to target a bad habit in your life. Now keep that bad habit in mind and we’re going to explore the answers to 3 questions.
What I want to do here is create the mental, emotional, and spiritual leverage you need to break from that bad habit and free yourself from it once and for all. Right now this exercise can do it even if nothing else is held before.
Powerful brain exercise to strengthen your character
First question: What is the payoff for this bad behavior?
There are reasons we do what we do, so what are your reasons? I guarantee there is some kind of enjoyable payoff for this negative behavior. This is a major point that most people overlook. When they are trying to change negative behavior, they sort of mentally accuse this nasty habit of being all bad and they don’t bring enough consciousness to how much they actually love it and why they love it.
I mean, you wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t love it. So just take a minute and list the benefits that you get in it because I promise you there are benefits here. If you’re overweight, it is because you habitually overeat. While this is for you’ve got to acknowledge how much you love doughnuts, how much those little crispy creams become a little slice of heaven when you put them in your mouth… yummy.
You love it and you love gelato and you love that hot quarter pound of cheese and you may say — “I have some large fries with that. It makes me ‘really happy‘ to eat food like this at that moment or when I go shopping, I spend money a little more. It gives me a rush, makes me feel important and that energy burst feels great at the moment. When I lose my temper, it blows off steam. I have to admit that its emotional release makes me feel powerful, whatever.“
Write: I love biting my nails... because why? One thing I love about smoking is... what?
What you want to do here is you want to make an exhaustive list of all the payoffs for this bad behaviour. All the payoffs for not changing this behaviour. Acknowledge them because they’re real and if you decide to go all-in and change this behaviour, this little list of your payoffs that you get for the bad behaviour is going to give you a crystal clear picture of what you need to let go of, in order to win this battle.
Second Question: What price will I have to pay if I don’t change this behavior?
This is important and takes courage. This is where you have to get serious about the actual pain that you are inflicting on yourself consistently because of this behavior.
What is the duty or self-esteem to know that you can’t stop smoking or that you drink too much or that you’re consistently overweight… what is it to know that you’re not in control of this area? Does it make you feel you’re not living at the level you should be? What kind of example are you setting for your kids? How is this bad behavior holding you back?
What’s the price that you’re paying daily in your life? Go into it, go deep and feel the actual pain. Feel the pain of the people you love. It is headed your way years in the future if you eat too much, drink too much, or smoke — and what’s going to happen?
Your body’s going to fall apart. What is that going to mean for your wife? What is that going to mean for your husband? Think in perspective for your kids! Does it end in a ruined relationship or with a compromised quality of life?
You know you shouldn’t be doing this; you know you need to change. So what you want to do here is: making an exhaustive list you want to be as hardcore with yourself as possible.
This is serious stuff. You want to make it as scary as you can while keeping it real because this is for your leverage.
Third question: If I free myself from this bad habit, and find success in letting this go, what am I going to do?
This answer should come from you. Describe the vision of the new you and your new life that is free from bad habits and how exceptional would that be. Write about how to make you feel good about yourself if you finally won this battle.
If you were 40 pounds lighter and looked 5 or 10 years younger, if you felt great inside, if you let those cigarettes untouched, that alcohol go, what will be your reward?
Next, what to do in your love life? Does it work for your sex life? What does it do for your parenting or your spiritual life? Would it sharpen your career? How much more integrity would you have? How much more self-esteem would you feel if you were living a 12 category smart life.
Instead of the heaviness tingling on your back, go deep into that vision of the new you and unchain from this behavior. You will feel it because there’s a tremendous amount of leverage here.
Debugging Your Character with the Powerful Exercise
Once you made these 3 lists, this is where the magic happens. You want to look at your answers to these questions.
In the answer to question number one, the benefits you are getting from this behavior — those benefits that Crispy cream or that rush from the cigarette or whatever it is. Those benefits form one side of the scale.
The other side of the scale comprises answers to questions 2 and 3: the immense price going to pay for not changing and the new life is waiting for you. The things you put in question number 1, all those payoffs you are enjoying right now, are literally standing in between you and your new life. Are those benefits really that great?
Look at the answer to question number 2: In the true cost of this negative behavior, is that some scary stuff worth it? Is a Crispy cream really worth an untimely death? Is habitual spending really worth a lifetime of financial disaster?
The answer to question number 3: The payoff for leaving this bad habit behind means that’s a new life right there. The whole point of this exercise lies here. When you inspect the 2 sides of that scale, you’ll find the payoffs for changing vastly outweigh the payoff for bad behavior. No comparison never is, and the cost and pain of staying the same and not changing vastly outweigh the cost in the pain of making that change.
So you might say goodbye to that bad habit and mourn if you have to. Have a little ritual around letting it go because I promise you this: once you flip that switch in your emotional body and prove to yourself that this behavior simply doesn’t belong in your life and is not as great as it seemed, game over, we won the battle.
Now, it is just a matter of going through the emotions to achieve your goal. I’ve seen this exercise break lifelong habits that nothing else could break, including smoking, which is one of the most addictive, destructive, sneaky little habits there is. All you have to do is read those 3 shortlists every day for a week to feel the emotion because it is super powerful.
Just give this a try to create your own character, “an engraved mark, a symbol, an imprint on your soul” and what we’re imprinting ourselves is our sense of what’s right or what’s proper into our morality.
That’s so true. We’re both a sculpture and the sculpted, shaping ourselves each and every day in the image of our values.
Next comes another deep category, “your spiritual life” to find out — Who are you deep down? What are you all about? Why are you here? What is the reason you exist?
Very few people have taken the time to think through and clarify their own spiritual lives. Doing that gives you the power and clarity that you cannot get in any other way.